Surprisingly for many new bakers, pie weights are widely used in cases of some specific baking methods. Especially if you need to ‘blind bake,’ depending on what type of crust you are working with, pie weights can make it or break it.
From store-bought tools to ordinary things available at home, there are many options you can choose as your pie weight. Let’s get into all there is to know about blind baking, what pie weights are, and how to use pie weights!
What Is Blind Baking?
Baking a pie or tart without the filling is called blind baking. There may be a lot of reasons why you may need to blind bake. You may not need to do it if you are using a crumb crust, but you certainly need to blind bake if you are using pastry crust.
For example, if your pie filling includes ingredients that cook faster or slower compared to the pie crust, if you start baking them layered together, your crust or filling will be either over or undercooked. So, you may need to partially bake your crust first and then re-bake with fillings.
Some pies don’t even require the fillings to be baked at all, so it really is only the crust that needs to be baked. Again, some fillings may consist of overly wet ingredients, which can turn the pie soggy. So, it is required that the pie crust is carefully blindly baked to keep its form.
What Are Pie Weights & Why Use Them?
Typically, pie weights are some form of small solid things you can cover the surface of your crust with while blind baking. While dough bakes, it creates steam; this steam creates air pockets. These air pockets can cause the pastry crust to puff up and then may deflate.
So, the surface of your pie might shrink and be unreasonably chewy, or it will be puffed up, and you will not be able to spread the filling evenly. Having something weighted on the surface of the crust helps with the puffing up and deflation; this is where the pie weights are necessary.
Store-bought pie weights are either small metallic balls or chains or ceramic marbles. They don’t weigh much so that they’ll push into the crust, creating a mess, but just enough to weigh the puffiness down while helping it cook evenly.
Pie Weight Substitutes
Since most of us don’t bake pie regularly, you might not want to spend money to buy pie weights that you’ll barely use. As opposed to store-bought metal chains/balls and ceramic marbles, you may have many other things lying around in your house that you can easily use as a substitute.
You can use simple grain-type cooking ingredients, such as dried beans, uncooked rice, sugar, popcorn kernels, etc., to weigh your puff pastry down. Also, you can use kitchen utensils, such as other pie plates. You can even use heavy dishes with a flat surface that covers the pie’s surface just as much as needed.
How to Use Pie Weights
Let’s learn the process here.
Prepare the Base
It’s not at all hard to use pie weight, but we surely have some extra advice for you along with detailed instructions!
Make your pie crust using your desired recipe, and lay that base on your preferred pie plate as usual. Now, take a fork and lightly poke around the surface, making tiny getaways so that steam doesn’t get trapped in your puff pastry, making the bottom soggy.
Add a Middle Protective Layer
We are surely not going to place our weights directly on the surface, as it can dig onto the pastry, misshapen it, or get stuck with the crust. It is most common to use parchment paper as a protective layer between your pie crumb and your pie weight.
However, you can also use coffee filters as a middle layer. Coffee filters are rather known to be more helpful as they will help draw out the steam’s moisture.
Creating holes with forks help with the steam getting released, which is needed more if you’re using parchment paper. No matter if you’re using parchment paper or a coffee filter, always cut it a little bigger than the size of your crust. In that way, it will be easier to hold edges and remove when the pie is baked and warm.
Place & Remove Your Pie Weights
After you’ve placed your middle protective layer, carefully distribute your weight evenly and thoroughly. Make sure they are dry and clean. Your pie is now ready to be blind baked!
When you’re done baking your pie to your desire level, give it time to cool down. Be careful not to burn your hands trying to remove hot weights. Wait for both the weight and the pie to cool down moderately.
Carefully hold the edge of your parchment paper/coffee filter/middle layer and remove the pie weights. Set the weights aside and wait for them to cool down so that you can store them.
Aftercare of Your Pie Weights
Now, let’s learn how to take care of the pie weights.
If you are using store-bought pie weights, there might be instructions on the box you can follow. The general idea is to wait for them to cool down, make sure they’re clean and dry, and store them in their designated box/place. Make sure your steel balls/chains aren’t getting rusty.
DIY Pie Weights
Since there are many things you can use as a substitute for pie weights, let’s talk about the most common ones and how to take care of them after you’re done blind baking.
Beans, uncooked rice, popcorn kernels- once you use these as pie weights, you can’t go back to cooking and eating them. However, you can store them to use as pie weights later on over and over again! Store them in a ziplock or cheesecloth bag once they are cooled down, and simply store them in a dry place.
If you are using kitchen utensils such as other pie plates, dishes, etc., make sure you wait for them to cool down first as they will be hot from being in the baking oven. Wash them as you usually wash your other utensils and dishes, dry them off, and store them.
Baking can be either very easy or very messy; it all depends on the knowledge and tools you possess and use. Now that we have shown how to use pie weights- we are sure you can go ahead and bake some amazing pies and tarts which get loved by all!